The Soccer Referee Responsibilities

In professional matches, the game is controlled by four officials: the referee, two assistant referees and the fourth official.

Football referee officiating a matchThe soccer referee does more than administering the Laws of the Game. He or she is responsible for the entire event which includes activities before, during and after the game. The referee is the final decision maker in matters relating to the play and his decisions are biding. He works hand in hand with two assistant referees or even three during big games. Here is a look at the soccer referee responsibilities, which are focused on ensuring a smooth running of the game.

Pre-Game Responsibilities

Prior to the match, the referee must sure that the players are ready to play and all their jewelry is removed. Players are not supposed to have bracelets, earrings and necklaces while playing for their own safety and that of other players. The soccer referee must then approve the number of players for each team before proceeding to start the game.

He has to arrive in time to check on players and meet with the coaches. The time recommended is 15 minutes before the scheduled kick-off time. Finally, he gets to toss a coin to determine which team starts the play.

Responsibilities during the Game

The referee is in charge of the rules and will strictly implement them1. He is in Charge Of the Rules

There are 17 Laws of the Game to be upheld in every game. The laws cover all aspects of the game ranging from the match ball specifications to player equipment safety. It is the referee’s obligation to apply the laws uniformly. He can delay the start of a game until the players conform to the rules.

His responsibility is to ensure the rules are followed without waning the competitiveness of the play. So the referee has to be apprised with all the rules and apply them whenever necessary. For example, in the case where a player commits more than one foul the referee must punish the more serious offense.

2. Maintaining the Safety of Players, Fans and Team Officials

With the help of assistant referees, he or she is required to ensure the safety of players, other officials and spectators. This means that he is entitled to make decisions on safety concerns about the match atmosphere or play. The options at hand are suspending the play, addressing the problem or abandoning the match. Those events interfering with the match are then recorded by the referee.

The referee stops the game if a player is hurt or bleeding to allow for treatment. He ensures the player is cared for either on the playing field or beside the pitch. He must ensure that a bleeding player leaves the playing field and only returns on receiving a confirmation from the assistants that the bleeding has stopped.

For team officials or crowds behaving badly, he can order them to leave the sidelines as a way of maintaining order in the game. On the other hand, he can stop the game if the crowd is endangered with the continuing of the game.

The referee is the timekeeper of a soccer game

3. The Game Time keeper

The referee starts the game and sanctions corner kicks, goal kicks, offside, handballs, throw-ins, direct kicks and substitutions at an appropriate time. His main responsibility is to run the whole match with minimal interruptions allowed.


The soccer referee enforces fair play during the game4. He Enforces Fair Play

He ensures fair play persists by discouraging unacceptable behavior through disciplinary action. His power lies on a pen and cards, part of the equipment a referee needs in every game. He should not tolerate provocation of other players by team officials and players. This is achieved by sanctioning yellow or red cards. A proper record of these actions is kept as it is the base of investigations into any misconduct.

Match referee and match officials inspect the pitch before a football game5. He Inspects the Playing Area

The area of major concern is the playing field and the immediate surroundings. It should be clear of fragments, most importantly the dangerous ones like glass pieces.

The corner flags must be in place, markings on the field should be unbroken and advertising boards should be over a meter from the playing area. The responsibility of the referee extends to the crowds during the large games. His duty is to confirm that their access to the field is limited.

Referees inspect the field as it rains prior to a match6. Weather and Surrounding Environment

The referee has the responsibility of keep an eye on the surroundings and determining whether the conditions are suitable for the match to continue. He can stop or delay the game if the condition of the field is not acceptable, some fixtures get damaged during the game, the spectators interfere with the progress of the game or there are concerns about lighting storm or such hazards.

7. Division of Responsibility and Cooperation

Having already stated that assistant referees assist in decision making, it is imperative for the soccer referee to cooperate with them. The assistants at times see incidents during the match that the referee might miss.

The referee ought to factor in their contribution as he is the head of this team of officials. This helps in ensuring the game is played for the stipulated time and appropriate stoppage time is added. It is with the help of assistants that unauthorized persons are identified and prevented from entering the playing area.

8. He Assumes the Right Positioning During the Game

Every referee needs to be fit and active on the field, moving with the ball so as to ensure he has a close eye on all actions. He has to do this without interfering with the play. However, there is no stoppage in play in case the ball hits the referee but he ought to be position himself in a way that it is unlikely to happen.

The movement is crucial in that the binding decisions that he makes are greatly dependent on his assessment of the action, which is typically very prompt. The diagonal system control is one feature that guides the movement of a soccer referee.

The fourth official acts primarily as an administrative assistant to the on-field referee.The Fourth Official

The fourth official, in the case of large games operates from the technical area overseeing the game. He assists the referee with administrative duties before and after the game. He also helps with assessing  players` equipment, and in some occasions he may be called on to replace another match official in the field.

He also acts as another pair of eyes for the referee and keeps an extra set of records for documentation. Among other duties, the fourth official must hold up a display board to indicate any time added on at the end of each half.

Post-Game Responsibility: Record Keeping

Ever wondered why referees scribble on their cards during the game? Well, it is part of the soccer referee responsibilities. The referee is supposed to provide a match report to the appropriate authorities. The report is a detailed documentation of incidents during the match, goals and disciplinary action taken on players and/or team officials before and during a match.